Crossed Arms in Holy Communion line

This morning while viewing the Daily Mass on EWTN I noticed that several people in line approached the Priest who was distributing Holy Communion with their arms crossed in front of them.

The Priest touched their heads with the Sign of the Cross, but they did not receive Holy Communion.

I don’t understand this. What took place?:confused: :confused:

People were presenting themselves tot he celebrant for a blessing because, for whatever reason they were disposed to receive the Blessed Sacrament.

Our pre-Communion kids do that in this Parish and it is a lovely sight to see. My daughter lines up with me and goes ahead of me to receive her blessing. It gets them used to the Communion line and hey, gets them used to going to the Priest instead of the EMHC’s. Now let the bashing begin…

The crossed arms signifies that the person is not properly disposed to receive communion for whatever reason and wishes to receive a blessing instead. Possible reasons might be that the person is in an invalid marriage, is not Catholic, didn’t meet the fasting requirements, and the like.

Now that was WHAT was happening. Whether or not you SHOULD have seen it happening is another matter altogether.

Years ago the good sisters taught us that if we were in line and then realized we shouldn’t be receiving communion then crossed arms or a quick shaking of the head was the way to quietly avoid receiving. Now days a priest will sometimes suggest such a blessing in the case of weddings, funerals, and other events that may have a large percentage of non-Catholics or Catholics who are not in good standing with the Church. It is also common for those who haven’t made their First Communion, especially young children, to request a blessing.

I think that is a great idea. (crossed arms). :slight_smile:

out of curiousity (as I’m working up to going up in the communion line for a blessing, I currently pray while everyone else goes up as I am just in the beginning stages of my conversion) how are their arms crossed?

I always keep my head bowed in prayer while everyone else goes up. Under different circumstances, I probably would peek, but I truly do enjoy my time of prayer while the communicants go up…

We did this when I was in RCIA - we were told to go up with everyone else for communion, but just to cross our arms for a blessing instead.

I do have a question though for Fergal or anyone else who can answer it. I noticed you said it gets them used to going to the priest - is only the priest supposed to give a blessing?

Our little college parish was small enough that it didn’t really matter.

Only a priest can give a blessing like that.

our pastor has several times reminded the congregation that this is NOT part of the Communion rite, and the proper time to receive a blessing is with the entire congregation at the final blessing.

Thank you to all those who responded to my query. I have seen little children go in line with their arms crossed and suspected this was because they were too young to receive yet; but, I had never seen an adult do this until today.

Thank you so much.:thumbsup:

Only a priest or a deacon, and it should not happen anyway. Blessings at that point are not part of the liturgy.

Sorry, you are right, deacons as well. Also, I was merely addressing the “who”, not the “where”…mainly because I was unaware of the “blessing in the Communion line”, and just threw in my :twocents: about who could do blessings.

Note, however, this does not negate parental blessings, which are still valid.

Yes. I have seen however the EMHC’s taking it upon themselves to ‘bless’ the children who ended up in their lines.

I have even seen…:blush: …seen…:frowning: …a EMHC give Benediction…:eek: … with the Host over the head of a child.

Only Priests can bless and only Priests can give Benediction.

It depends on the priest. The rector of my parish will give a blessing, but I think one of the newly ordained priests at another nearby parish won’t.

Do you know how to do the “I love you” sign in ASL?

It’s the same gesture as for “love” in the “I love you” sign. That is, left hand on the right shoulder, right hand on the left shoulder, crossed in an “x” shape at the wrists.

Please note that this is a liturgical abuse that is not called for anywhere in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. This blessing is not a consolation prize for those not receiving communion. Besides, the entire congregation gets blessed 5 minutes later at the dismissal.

Those who cannot receive communion (Canon Law #844) are to make a spiritual communion (from their pew), then they should go to confession (and/or do whatever else they need to do) in order regularize their situation so as to receive corporate communion the next time.

In the Byzantine tradition, one goes to Communion with arms crossed.

Puzzleannie-- this must be a norm in our Diocese of Brownsville in Texas. Our pastor at St. Joseph’s in Edinburg (who is also the Vicar General of the Diocese) ran this in our Sunday bulletin…


In recent times the practice has arisen in some localities of persons coming forward in the Communion procession not to receive Communion but instead to receive a personal blessing. To indicate this, some persons cross their arms over their hearts, others simply ask for a blessing.

Is this a good practice? At the time of the distribution of Communion, only those who will receive Communion should come forward. The only exception to this is parents bringing their children or persons who, while not receiving Communion themselves, are assisting someone who will.

The proper time for the blessing is at the end of Mass, when everyone receives the Lord’s blessing together.

Anyone who wishes to receive a personal blessing for him/herself or a family member is encouraged to approach the priest after Mass.

Why not come forward at Communion for a personal blessing? Beyond what has just been explained, it should be noted that:

  1. Coming forward at Communion for a blessing instead of Communion distorts the meaning of the Communion rite and the Communion procession.

  2. Canon Law prohibits the simulation of a sacrament. Scandal can arise (and has arisen) when someone who is prohibited from receiving Communion comes forward at Communion time. Even if the person intends only to seek a blessing, others may not know this or see what happens when the person arrives at the altar. (Examples of persons prohibited from receiving Communion would include: a visiting non-Catholic, a Catholic who has not fasted for an hour, a Catholic in an irregular marriage, a Catholic in a state of grave sin, a Catholic who has already received Communion at an earlier Mass.)

  3. Everyone coming forward at Communion, including those not intending to receive Communion, would result in lengthening the time required to distribute Communion, to no benefit.

In sum, there is no need or value in entering the Communion procession unless one will receive Communion, and there are several important reasons why one should not come forward merely for a blessing.

Oh thank you! That makes sense. Regular, casually crossed arms just seemed a little too “defensive” (and casual!) in nature of a stance for it to be what was done…

But from what others have been saying, this goes against canon law? I suppose I’ve been doing the correct thing, then, staying in my seat.
I’m not sure if that is a realization that is happy, or sad! :shrug:

Oh no! I did that when I was at Mass and couldn’t receive Communion!!! I didn’t know it was an abuse. :blush: